Unbabbled Episode 10: The Parish Way
The Parish Way
Since 1983, The Parish School has educated children who have communication delays and learning differences, empowering them with the tools to succeed. In this episode, The Parish School’s director of arts and sciences, Terri Garth, discusses the history of The Parish School, provides background on the school’s founder and delves into the educational philosophy, therapeutic approach, and underlying beliefs that make up “The Parish Way.” Additionally, she explains the emphasis on the arts, nature-based learning and camp-like feel to the campus atmosphere, as well as the reasoning behind our multi-aged classroom approach. This episode offers something for everyone, no matter your level of familiarity with The Parish School.
Terri’s work as an educator began at The Parish School, where she was instrumental in the development of the school’s theater program, and later its Integrated Arts and Sciences department, which includes art and music classes and therapy, digital learning, a library with makerspace, theater, P.E., and nature studies. In addition to the big impact Terri makes in the academic lives of students, Terri co-founded the Margaret Noecker Nature Center in 2012. Utilizing The Parish School’s 17-acre campus, the Nature Center is an integrated, nature-based learning environment that facilitates children’s intellectual, social and emotional development through direct engagement with the natural world.
A former Parish parent herself, The Parish School would not be where it is today without Terri’s guidance, experience and passion.
The Parish School Website: www.parishschool.org
Stephanie: 00:05 Hello and welcome to Unbabbled a podcast that navigates the world of special education, communication delays and learning differences. We are your hosts, Stephanie Landis and Meredith Krimmel and we're certified speech language pathologist who spend our days at The Parish School in Houston, helping children find their voices and connect with the world around them. In this episode, we'll be speaking with Terri Garth veteran theater educator. More than 25 years, Terri's work as an educator began at The Parish School where she was instrumental in the development of the school's theater program and later it's integrated arts and sciences department. On top of Terri's years of experience as an employee of The Parish School. She's also an alumni parent. During our conversation, Terri discusses the history of The Parish School, gives background on the school's founders and delves into the educational philosophy, therapeutic approach and underlying beliefs that make up The Parish School Way.
Stephanie: 00:58 Welcome. We're so excited today to be speaking with Terri Garth. Terri. Garth is an educator at The Parish School and has been here for a few years. Terri, will you give us a little bit of background about yourself? How long you've been here and what brought you to The Parish School?
Terri: 01:14 Hi Guys. Thank you so much for having me. I love to talk about The Parish School. So this is really fun for me. This is my 28th year consecutive year, I think at The Parish School. I started at The Parish School way back on the old campus. My daughter had a communication disorder when she was five and a half years old and I've always been so grateful that we lived in the city of Houston because we were referred to The Parish School. And I remember walking onto the campus and seeing Robbin and her little dog buttons and all of the children and the staff were so friendly. Everybody was greeting us and talking to us. And when I observed the teachers, I noticed that they really made an effort to make sure that the children were understood. And I knew in that moment that the Paris school was the place that my child needed to be. So she was very fortunate to have Margaret Noecker as her teacher. It was her last year of teaching and Margaret loved to put on class plays. So when she heard that I had a theater background, she asked me to come to the school and help the children put on a play. And I just had this realization of how amazing drama could be for children with language and learning issues.
Stephanie: 02:24 So fantastic. So for our listeners who might not be familiar with The Parish School history, you've mentioned Robbin, Robbin Parish, and Margaret Noecker. Can you just give a little bit of background about who Robbin Parish is and how The Parish School came to be?
Terri: 02:39 Sure. Robbin Parish obviously is the founder of The Parish School. Robbin was from Houston and she struggled a bit academically. She came from a family that expected very high achievement and it was difficult for her. So every summer she would go to camp Wildomar out into the hill. And that is where Robbin excelled. She was an athlete and she was the queen of Camp Wildomar and it was the place where she felt best about herself. So many years later, she went to graduate school at Our Lady of the lake and at our lady of the lake, she was mentored by Elizabeth Carol Woolfolk and Elizabeth Carol Woolfolk knew that early intervention was really, really important for children who struggled with language learning differences. So Robbin, while in graduate school discovered that she learned best through chatting, talking over her classes with the other students. And so she began to dream of a camp or a school in a, in a camp like setting light camp Wildomar where these children could be served and they could learn the way that they learned best. And the focus would be on early intervention. So a few years later, probably several years into her practice, her parents of her children, her clients came to her and said, we need you to start a school in Houston. We can't wait for you to buy Camp Wildomar in 30 years when you retire and make it into a residential treatment program. We need it now. And so Robbin said, if you will find the land for me in Houston that looks like a camp, I'll do it. And the parents came back within a week and had the original property that The Parish School stood on.
Stephanie: 04:21 That's amazing. How needed something like The Parish School is and Robbin Parish, her background is a speech language pathologist?
Terri: 04:29 Correct. She did her undergraduate work at University of Texas and then she got her master's degree at our lady of the lake.
Stephanie: 04:37 So what year was this?
Terri: 04:39 Gosh, I think it was in about 1985 the original campus was on an old abandoned nursery, so it was really beautiful. It was very green and it had this like main building in the middle and that's where the first classroom was. And the very first teacher that she hired was a young woman named Margaret Noecker. And Margaret had been a kindergarten teacher at Kinkaid at least I think she was a kindergarten teacher at Kinkaid and they met and my understanding is their interview lasted about three and a half hours and they just agreed philosophically on everything. They wanted a whole language based approach for these children and it needed to be multisensory and it needed to be multidisciplinary and lots of play and lots of positive nurturing energy.
Stephanie: 05:29 I love that. That's cool. So you mentioned the old campus Parish school has been at two separate campuses then.
Terri: 05:36 That's right. The first campus is the one that I spoke with you about in the old abandoned nursery. I don't remember exactly how many years we were there. Probably about 15 we had temporary buildings brought in, but eventually there was a fire that destroyed the main building, which happened to hold all my costumes, which was really sad. Right. But um, that was sort of the kickstart of the, the capital campaign that enabled us to move to this beautiful 17 and a half acre campus here at Hammerly and Britmoore.
Meredith: 06:09 And what year was that that we moved to this campus?
Terri: 06:11 Oh, you're asking me such detailed questions. I'm not sure that I remember. I know we can go back and look this up. I think around 2007 maybe 2005. Yeah, I'm not really sure. But yes, it was so exciting. That just goes to show you how to, how out of something really tragic and sad and awful, which a fire certainly is a wonderful things can come from it.
Meredith: 06:34 And I've seen the old campus and it's beautiful or you know, very green and lush, but this campus really brought Robbin's dream to life. It really looks like a camp. We have different cottages and we have the outdoor fireplace and the covered walkways and all the limestone. So that must've been really neat to see her dream come to life when you move to this campus.
Terri: 06:55 It really was. We would have in-services about every three years where she would have us draw our, our, our green dream, I think she called it. And we would all imagine our classrooms and we would imagine how the cottages would be set up. And I remember on the very last time that we did that, I drew up my classroom, you know, thinking same old, same old. I'm going to draw my classroom and I want my table here and I want my cabinet there and I want my big storage closet there. And then magically the next year construction began. And that is exactly what my classroom looks like today. So I'm really glad that I put forth a lot of effort into my thought in the design process.
Meredith: 07:37 So your classroom is the one you designed, right?
Terri: 07:39 Yes. Oh cool. Yes, yes.
Stephanie: 07:41 Yeah, I can tell that a lot of thought went into making sure that it was a very green campus because not only are we surrounded by trees, but every classroom just has these huge open windows. And the current classroom that I've been working in now, we look out and that's all we see is just like trees and play areas for the kids to explore. And it's quite beautiful and very calming.
Meredith: 08:03 Yeah, I think I remember somebody saying that Robbin's dream was to bring the outside in to the classrooms, bring nature into the classrooms with the big windows.
Stephanie: 08:11 So one of the things that you've mentioned that stuck with me is that Robbin and Margaret hit it off on their dream of what the school would look like and their philosophy. Can you delve a little bit more into what that philosophy is and how it translates to the classrooms now?
Terri: 08:30 I think that what you're asking me is what was really important to Margaret and Robbin and I think that the most important thing that carried over from Robbin's dream of having The Parish School be like the camp that she attended as a child is that that is the time that Robbin felt the very best about herself, so she had the idea that the children came to The Parish School, they needed to come to a really different environment than the one that they had been struggling in just as she had. Hence the casual atmosphere of The Parish School. It is not like any other school. We all call each other by our first names just like the children did with their counselors at camp. Our clothes are all very casual so that we don't look intimidating and like authoritarian figures to the children. It was very important that the children have a team to be on. The tribes at Wildomar are very important for the girls. They support each other and they have competitions with each other, but they all have a place to belong. So our classes all have a class name that is their team. Our kids don't always get picked to be on teams and she wanted to make sure that all of our children had a place to belong and a team to be on. Feeling really good about yourself was really important to Robbin. So Margaret taught us all how to reframe any negative comments into positive rules or comments. For example, instead of saying stop running, we would say walking feet instead of saying you're being too loud or stop talking, we would say use your inside voice. So it was very important to Robbin and Margaret that the children felt safe and that this was a new start for them. And a new beginning, Robbin and Margaret always felt that having pets on campus had a very calming influence for the children and it taught them to care for other living creatures. So it's really interesting that we have service dogs on campus and that correlates perfectly with what Robbin and Margaret both believed in.
Stephanie: 10:38 Yes, some of the best conversations that I had when I was working with the really little kids, like two and three year olds was around the turtle pen and we got so much out of it. They were so excited. They'd ask great questions. They were acting as part of a group. They were really kind and caring and excited to go explore the turtles and feed them and we just got so much fantastic language and play and ideas out of just going and feeding the turtles worms and they would hold things back from their lunchboxes and be like, oh, I remember that turtles like to eat this. Can we go give it to the turtles? And having that common bond of the animals has been a really great jumping off point for a lot of our kids to have a point of connection and communication.
Terri: 11:28 It's really interesting that you say that because we see the same thing with gardening and out on little acorn park, which is our newest playground edition. It is a loose parts playground or an outdoor learning environment versus a fixed structured playground. And it very much is modeled after Robbin and Margaret's vision of loose parts play on the old campus. We did not have a fixed structure for a really long, we had sand and rocks and a cement culvert and the kids played and played and played. We had people that offered to donate a swing set and Robbin said we don't want a swing set. And so what we see on little acorn park and what we saw back on the old campus is that loose parts play enables the children to just play and play and play and play and play.
Meredith: 12:13 It's completely open ended and it creates spontaneous language and expansive vocabulary and a lot of cooperation as well. Yeah. And since Robbin was a speech language pathologist and she was developing a school for children with language delays and language disorders, um, so much of her philosophy can be tracked back to developing language. Even what you were talking about earlier with um, framing things in a positive way, like use your walking feet. That's also a great language tool. A lot of our children, when you say stop talking, they don't know what you want them to do. They need more explicit teaching. So saying use your inside voice teaches them right then what's expected and really fills that language gap in for them. So language was always at the core of her mission and her her dream.
Stephanie: 12:58 And I can see how that builds a positive rapport too with the teachers and the therapist on campus because a lot of our kids do come from a background where they've heard, no, no, no, no. And it felt really bad. And there is that way of reframing it so that you're getting them to do what is expected because they want to, the kids want to be a part of the group and do what's expected and to have good feelings and doing it in a way that allows them to feel good but still know what to do and follow the expectations of the classroom. I think that is a wonderful thing to learn and has even changed the way I parent at home.
Terri: 13:35 Absolutely. I have found that The Parish School has made me a better person and it's made me a better parent. And it can be life changing for anyone if you let it change your life.
Meredith: 13:45 I agree. Yeah. So you're talking about all the things that are different about Parish school and something that's really different about us is our classroom levels. We don't have grades were non-graded. Can you talk a little bit about why Robbin and Margaret, if she was involved in this decision, went with levels versus grades?
Terri: 14:03 You know, it all goes back to the same thing. Helping children feel better about themselves. So if you take away the grade level, you take away the stigma of being behind. So if you have a child who is in first grade here at The Parish School, so that would be primary level. They could be working on kindergarten skills, they could be working on second and third grade skills because we individualized for each student. But if they were in a, you know, a class at grade level, if kindergarten will and they're supposed to be supposed to be in first grade, well then you're not acknowledging the skills that they have that are go above and beyond kindergarten. So it takes the stigma away and it stops the comparison with siblings, with twins, with friends, it frees everybody up to feel good about the place where the child is. And that's the most thing. Meeting the child and the family where they are with the multi-age levels. That kind of the same idea. Yes, but include then peer tutoring. So what we know is that children can learn it, but then when they teach it, it's really cementing their learning. So the beauty of a multi-age classroom is that the children, the older children can peer tutor the children younger than them and then they'll go up. Those children will go up to the next level the next year and they become the student and the other, the older students become the teacher.
Meredith: 15:24 I love that. And we also have some of our upper elementary students go down into our primary classes. So upper and upper elementary is nine to 11 year olds and primary is five to seven but we also see even that cross level of the older students on campus going into the primary levels and supporting them and reading with them and getting an opportunity to be a peer model and a teacher.
Stephanie: 15:45 It's a really great way to build self confidence and self esteem. It's when you can show that your mastery, even if it's something that you're working on like reading, if reading is hard for you, but you can show other kids and go down and say as an upper elementary student and read with the primary kids like that just builds a lot of self confidence as you're still learning this skill that you are still knowledgeable and valuable and you can show other people how to do it too.
Terri: 16:11 I think that's just at, at its core that is was Margaret's and Robbin's vision to create a place where children feel confident, where children feel smart again, where children are able to take risks again. She really believed that confidence could be destroyed very easily for children and that we needed to create an atmosphere where they would want to come and where they would feel able to take chances.
Stephanie: 16:39 Again, one of the places I see kids showing that is not just in the classroom academically because they know that they're struggling with that or feel that they're struggling with that, but I see so many of our kids shining in the arts programs. Can you talk a little bit about our arts program here and kind of how that developed?
Terri: 16:58 I would love to talk about that. Robbin really believed in the arts. She loved the theater, she loved PE. She was an athlete, so the very first person that she chose to have on campus as an arts teacher was Patsy Potter, and that was for music. Patsy I think was a para educator and she wanted to have a children's choir. So Robbin being the great visionary that she was was like, yes, patsy, you can start a choir at The Parish School. And then the next thing you know we have a musical at The Parish School. I think the next position that was offered was, was PE. So Stan the man Barlow was the only man on campus and she tapped him to teach PE for the kids. And of course that was a wonderful vehicle for all of the children. And then I, then we had art, there was an art teacher that came out and did clay, I think with the kids a few days a week. Then I was the next person that come on board and I went to Robbin and just gave my pitch about what I thought that drama could do for the kids. And I had absolutely no experience as a teacher at all. And she said, how wonderful. I love drama. And so I started the drama program here. So Robbin really believed that every child had a strength. And our job is to find that strength and nurture it and communicate to the children how special they are and to communicate to their parents that their children have a talent or that they have something that they're really good at or something that they really love. So the arts program at The Parish School identifies talents. And communicates those talents to the parents so that the parents can then go out into the community and find a place for their children to practice their craft perhaps in the summer. And then what we see happen is they go out into the world in junior high and high school and this is their niche. This is their safe place to fall and everybody needs a niche and a safe place to fall. So you don't even have to be particularly talented at drama to enjoy it and to love theater and to become a lover of the arts. There are just so many benefits for children to participate in the arts. We know for sure that children's emotional intelligence is increased by participating in theater. Research has shown that we know that the children who have the most difficulty verbally expressing themselves really find their voice in art and also music.
Stephanie: 19:33 Yeah, I've worked with many kids who they just come alive and they are able to communicate so much more emotions or communication-wise while they're in the music therapy classes or in art therapy and it really adds an extra layer of benefit. And I find so important as many other schools out in the community are cutting back on their art. It's really sad. And here we are recognizing its importance and making sure that it's a daily part of their lives here on campus so that they can have another expression and another place to show their talents and strengths.
Terri: 20:10 And often these children are fine arts kids, you know, they may struggle in every other area and fine arts may be the place that they absolutely shine and it enables them to see themselves differently and it enables their parents and their family members and their friends to see them as abled rather than disabled.
Meredith: 20:31 I found that when I have conversations with former parents, a lot of the times the stories, we ended up sharing our stories about the arts, the musical, stories about how that first year they wouldn't get on stage and then the next year they were singing a solo. So I think the parents see such a value in that and they see what value it brings to their children. So it's often the stories that I hear the most.
Terri: 20:53 I just heard from a parent recently about her daughter being in some camp. I don't, I don't remember what it was, but the children had to stand up and use a microphone and speak in public. And our little Parish School graduate was the first one to hold the microphone and had so much poise and so much self confidence. I hear that all the time that our children grab microphones at parties and it that, that, you know, pizza place or Karaoke or whatever because they are so comfortable using a microphone. We work on it, we use it all the time and they usually leave here feeling very confident about their speaking skills.
Stephanie: 21:28 And not just that, but it's done here in such a therapeutic way as well. And you've touched on drama, building the emotional support and emotional skills and I've seen it as we've collaborated to be able to work and bring in some of our, um, social emotional curriculum into not just the classroom but into drama. And they have that outlet in art as well. And then they have the other outlets in like the maker space, allowing them to work on, not just making, but you can bring in a lot of problem solving and creativity and teamwork that is hard for our kids. But they get to do that hard work in a really fun and motivating way.
Terri: 22:09 And in a really nurturing setting, you know, and we bring them to the point to where they feel safe enough to take those risks, especially in robotics and in makerspace and in coding, you know, that that enables them to be really successful.
Meredith: 22:24 Something I love about The Parish School is just as Robbin and Margaret believe that every child has a strength and something to bring. They also believe that in their staff. So you mentioned you, you pitched to Robbin. I want a drama program and we have a drama program and it's a direct benefit to the children. I think about how our camp social superheroes was started with Renee Attaway just approaching Margaret and saying, I want to camp for kids with social cognitive delays and, and now it's been around for 10 years. And just how believing in your staff has a direct benefit to the children. It provides so many more services for them.
Terri: 22:59 I really believe that it's so important that The Parish School continues to be a school that says yes. I know that Heather approached Nancy Bewley about having a service dog and Nancy said yes and what a brilliant yes that was. It's so great to have had service dogs on campus and I know we're going to get another one. I can think of so many examples. For example, Adventure Play, one of Margaret's gifts was that she really saw what people could be good at and she knew immediately that Jill was the right person to start Adventure Play. She had the right skillset. She just, she just had that gift, so I do. I think it's important that we continue to individualize for our staff as much as we do for our children. That's why we have such a and such a talented group of people. Everybody gets to really function in their best skillset.
Stephanie: 23:52 Another thing that you've touched on about The Parish School way is that you were saying that it's multi-sensory and play-based and that seems to be something that they've been able to carry from the youngest classes up through the oldest classes. Can you discuss a little bit about what that looks like in the classrooms?
Terri: 24:09 I know that our early childhood staff believes in the power of play and that the job of little children is to play and they learn through play. That is their learning modality, so that's always been the case in our early childhood program and then as the children have gotten older, they have the opportunity to play an adventure play for children ages six through 12 and I see that our teachers value loose parts play in our recess program and so the play continues through recess time. And then I think that even in the oldest classes through PE and through the playful nature of their classroom teachers, we show every day how much we value play for children.
Stephanie: 25:03 And many of our classrooms have maker spaces in them. A lot of our primary and classes have centers based learning through place still and we have, it's not as much play but more child directed through the inquiry-based program and that's a common thread through all levels that it's child-directed, child interest led and that you can make learning still really valuable and functional in a positive, playful way.
Terri: 25:33 It's so funny, the whole inquiry-based learning is exactly what Robbin envisioned when she started the school. And she would always say that The Parish School is on the cutting edge and she never believed in workbooks and worksheets. She always wanted the children to learn experientially. She believed in hands-on learning. And so it's so funny that we talk about starting this new IBL or project-based learning at Parish School and that was always the mission of The Parish School, but now it has a name and it's been expanded and, and it's, it's wonderful. It falls exactly in line with the Paris School's vision because that the school was founded on that vision.
Stephanie: 26:12 Yeah, and that's what many of the elementary teachers were doing when I started 12 years ago. They just, as you said, didn't have a name for it. They were in there exploring. I remember one time walking into the classroom and they were exploring Arctic animals and they were making bags of fat so that they could stick their hands in it. And the kids were driving the idea of how much do we need in here so that our hands don't get cold when we smash it in the ice water. And why would animals in the Arctic need layer of fat to keep them warm? And they were just hands on and they were driving the questions that they were wanting to learn about the arctic animals and they were doing experiments about it, but it wasn't as formalized. So yes, it's something that is always seems to be a part of The Parish School Way.
Terri: 26:59 I love going into the classrooms when they're doing their IBL work in upper elementary. I see that some of the children are recording their work. Some of them are writing their work, some of them are dictating it to someone else who, where that is their strength. And that is really the basic belief of The Parish School is that each child needs to be able to learn in their own way, not the way that the teacher is, not the way the teacher teachers, but it's the way that the child learns and we see so much confidence when they do their presentations in IBL because they're each have used their own learning modality to discover and to research their project.
Stephanie: 27:37 And they are able to use their strengths and communication to get those ideas across.
Terri: 27:43 And they're using so much teamwork.
Stephanie: 27:45 Yeah. All of that is really at the heart of kind of what we call The Parish School way here.
Terri: 27:52 Right. Helping each other using our strengths, discovering strengths. I'll show you up here if you'll show me up there. It's all part of the mission of The Parish School to create children who want to learn and become lifelong learners.
Stephanie: 28:08 One of the things I've always loved about The Parish School was including the parents in as part of the team and providing a lot of parents support through education and resources on campus. Can you talk a little bit about what that looks like here at Parish?
Terri: 28:26 I'd love to talk about what it looked like in the beginning. In the beginning when we signed our contract to attend The Parish School, we had to agree to attend either four or six Parent Ed's and we had parent education almost every month. We don't do quite as much formalized meetings anymore at The Paris School, but we have these wonderful podcasts and we have different ways of educating the parents. The idea from the beginning was to help the parents become advocates for their children by the time that a parent leaves The Parish School and transitions into wherever they go, the parents and the children should be able to advocate for themselves so that that's always been a primary goal at The Parish School. Parents as advocates, students as student advocates. The other benefit to being at The Parish School is that it creates parent community. Often when your child has a learning difference or learning disability, sometimes your family doesn't understand your child's behavior or the decisions that you're making. You get questioned a lot and The Parish School gives you a place of community when you're volunteering for PTO events or when you're at a class party or when you're at Garden Day, you have community with other parents who are going through the same thing that you are and it's really a gift to our parents. Margaret really wanted to have all of the same things at The Parish School that the public schools did. She'd love to have spaghetti dinners and book fairs and Potato Suppers and you know, pancake breakfast and all of that. She felt it was so important because the children, a lot of our children miss out on that opportunity. They miss out on the big community functions and so she wanted to create a community here for our children and for our parents.
Stephanie: 30:20 And it speaks a lot to how dedicated our parents are that many of them drive across busy traffic in Houston to be a part of the community.
Terri: 30:31 They do. We have had children come from all over the surrounding areas. We've had them come from as far away as League City and The Woodlands. And even further, I'm sure. I just can't think of right off the top of my head. I know that there have actually been families who've moved here from Canada, from California for their children to attend school here.
Stephanie: 30:52 They feel that that sense of community and that their child has a place of belonging and can build the strengths.
Terri: 30:58 And people who believe in their children. And we believe that all children can learn. We just have to figure out how they learn and where is the best place for them to learn and where.
Meredith: 31:07 That's right. Another part of our parent's community building. Remember when we had the baseball team, it was all parent led and parent organized and it just another way to show our amazing parent community.
Terri: 31:20 Aand I think the kids are playing soccer now. We have soccer league and not so great. A lot of our children don't get to play in regular organized sports, so to have a little soccer team is so much fun.
Stephanie: 31:30 You've been talking about finding a place where kids feel comfortable. Yesterday on campus was our meet the teacher and we had a child who was about seven years old talking about and he said, I am so excited to be back at the school that I love. And then he looked at his brother who was not much younger and he said, he doesn't like school, he doesn't like his school. I love my school. And my heart broke for the little boy who didn't like school yet and but was so happy that this child who could be struggling at another places was finding somewhere he could grow and thrive and could express how much he loved being a part of school. Because most kids, even neurotypically developing kids don't really love the school that they go to. They might like it, but it's so nice to find a place where kids can say that they, they love being here.
Terri: 32:20 I'd like to add two things to that. The first is, I heard that yesterday as well and what I also heard is that their siblings really wanted to go to school here and I know that happened in my own family. My son wanted to go to The Parish School. Who wouldn't as what my mom always says, she's a big supporter of The Parish School and she's like all children deserve to have an education like The Parish School, all children deserve to be nurtured and valued. We often get to see children come back to The Parish School at our Spring Fling and spring events. We have alumni students return and what we hear over and over again from the middle school kids and even the kids that are in high school or even some who have attended college and they will say, the time that I spent at The Parish School was the best time of my life. It was the time when I was really popular.
Stephanie: 33:10 And we're asking kids to do really hard things for them and for them to say that they love coming even when we know we push them to do hard things and that they have hard emotions and they're struggling is just a testament to Robbin and Margaret's vision of how you can support these children in still really loving way and meeting them where they're at to get them going for their goals.
Meredith: 33:34 All children want to succeed in all children went to learn so when they're given that environment and they're doing it in a natural functional way with a lot of fun wrapped in and with teachers who love it, like who wouldn't love being here?
Terri: 33:47 I wanted to say earlier and I just remembered that one of the things, one of the tools that Robbin gave us was to catch the children being good. An example of that would be when the children walk into your classroom and they're sitting down and they're talking and they're not showing that they're ready for class. You can say, I love the way that Kimmy is sitting with her hands in her lap and her eyes are on me. She's ready for drama. It is like the magic pill. Well then Johnny is sitting up and showing you he's ready and mark is sitting up and showing you he's ready. When we catch the kids being good, they'll do what is expected of them because they want to do well. They want to succeed and that's why that little trick works so well.
Stephanie: 34:32 At the end of every podcast we ask all of our guests one question. Our question is if you had one piece of advice for our listeners, educators, parents, other therapists and professionals. It can be about parenting, it can be about drama, anything you'd like. One piece of advice, what would you give them?
Terri: 34:52 Help your children find something that they love to do. Nurture that gift and let them express it and this is not going to be very popular advice, but if they don't love it, let them quit it.
Stephanie: 35:07 I think that's really great and it can be applied to teachers in the classroom as well as parents. To find something that your students are really good at and love and help nurture it.
Meredith: 35:18 And I think sometimes it's hard, especially as parents when we have this vision of what our children will be and what they will do, sometimes it's hard to let that go, so that's really great advice to remember. It's really about your child or your students, not about you.
Terri: 35:31 I think as a parent that is probably the hardest part of this journey is that we start dreaming when we're a little bitty little bitty kids about what our life is going to be like when we're growing up and what our children are going to be like and you have to be able to let that dream go so that you can have the, the reality of the beauty of your child's life. It's not an easy, it's not an easy switch to make, but it's a necessary one.
Stephanie: 35:56 And every child has that thing that they are really great at and they have a gift. Every child has something that can be nurtured into something. Great. Thank you so much for chatting with us about The Parish School and what makes The Parish School so unique.
Terri: 36:12 Thank you. Thank you so much for having me.
Meredith: 36:17 Thank you for listening to the Unbabbled podcast. For more information on today's episode, including links to resources mentioned, please see our episode description. For more information on The Parish School, visit parishschool.org if you're not already, don't forget to subscribe to the Unbabbled podcast on your app of choice, and if you like what you're hearing, be sure to leave a rating and review a special thank you to Stig Daniels, Amy Tanner and Amanda Arnold for all their hard work behind the scenes. Thanks again for listening.